It’s time to start thinking seriously about how we prepare for rehearsal and performance, this is not meant to scare or criticise anyone but, we have come so far in recent years as a group and as individual players that it would be a shame not to take a few more steps forward! It’s a bit like cooking the perfect cake but then not adding the final touches of decoration to make it perfect.

Sitting in various sections of the band gives me a strong overview of the sound and preparation of our players, the majority have taken the time to mark key changes and dynamics in their scores which is great to see but then a few haven’t, and then miss them or practise the notes incorrectly which brings the ensemble down…… please mark your score so that the right keys, accidentals and dynamics pop off the page and become central to your vision. I would also be marking changes into a hard copy of the score for those using electronic readers….. as we can’t use them on the contest stage.

Intonation and balance came and went several times last night, one of the very few times that I recommend using an electronic tuner is to check your intonation (or tuning within the instrument) every instrument is different and it will change as lips tire, reeds wear and the temperature of the room changes, but we can avoid this to a degree if you are aware of untuneful pitches…. for example on trumpet, low C sharp, D and high G sharp are nearly always on the sharp side and either need to be lipped into pitch or move the third slide out to compensate…..doing this with a tuner can easily help you identify how far to change. Balance is the levels between sections or between parts in the section our balance has suffered as a result of having to social distance, not playing out in different venues as much and now because we are a much more solid ensemble but this means we need to be listening out so much more to our sections to ensure we blend well and across the band so we leave room for each part without to much effort. Many of our lead players are helping balance the sections by encouraging others to level within the group and I encourage you to keep building that balance.

The final offering from me is to watch the conductor! A basic concept for sure, but easy to forget in the heat of performance, there is one tempo and it comes from the front!

Thanks again for a very positive, working and developing session, keep up the great work